Friday, July 9, 2010

MOBY-DICK, Page 302

Title: It was a black and hooded head; and hanging there in the midst of so intense a calm, it seemed the Sphynx's in the desert.

5.5 inches by 8 inches
acrylic paint and ink on found paper
July 9, 2010


  1. As long as you're using found paper, why not use actual pages from the Text?

  2. I have actually done that, although only once so far. It's the illustration for page 106.

    There are several reasons why I don't use more pages from the actual text. The first is that since the pages from the book are so text-heavy, it can be difficult if not impossible to find enough open, white space on the page to do any sort of detailed or delicate linework without it getting lost in a muddle of black letters.

    Additionally, and most importantly to me, I am constantly surprised, fascinated, and occasionally alarmed at the way certain elements from the other pages I choose show through the art and add a second, deeper level of meaning to the image and the book. One example I can point to is page 286, an illustration of the ship's cook Fleece, from an old children's book on time. As you know, no one other than Ishmael survives the book. Looking closely at my illustration of Fleece, under the ink for his right hand you can see the words "last year." Last year, Fleece was alive and well, and his right hand is active and moving, pointing at something. Under the ink for his left hand you can the words "next year." For Fleece, and everyone but Ishmael, there will be no next year. They are on a doomed ship. His left hand hangs limply, static at his side. Honestly, this was entirely unintentional while I was making the illustration, but I have no doubt that there may have been something subconscious going on.

    Those are the biggest reasons why I use a wide variety of found paper. I will definitely be using at least a few more from the actualy book "Moby-Dick," I just don't know precisely when.

    Thanks for this comment, by the way. It was an excellent one and refreshing for me to be able to share some of my process this way.

  3. Apologies for any typos. Blogger seems to be acting up this morning. Other people's errors do not bother me at all, but mine drive me crazy.

  4. Hi Matt-

    Funny you mention that drawing w/ Fleece - I thought that was one of the most interesting dynamics between image and background I've seen in this project, and I've given a fair amount of thought to it. Was there any reason at all to choose that background? The resonances are subtle, so I can see how it would be subconscious or instinctive.

  5. Sean, as unbelievable as this may seem, the choice of found paper is almost always completely subconscious, and it was that way with the Fleece illustration as well. I am never looking for anything specific, but I know that I do notice some things immediately, on an intuitive level. With that Fleece image, I was thinking of his tremendous age (hence the page from a book on time) and his general nervousness and unease, so the worried face of the child jumped out at me. The subtler details ("last year" and "next year") were details I was completely unaware of on a conscious level until I had finished the piece and was looking more closely at it.

    It is precisely this element of randomness and chance that drew me toward working on found paper, and it has yielded great rewards with this project especially.

    Thank you, by the way, for the kind words regarding that Fleece illustration. It is one of my favorites, and I am very pleased you like it as well.

  6. Thank you for such a thorough response. I often enjoy the "behind the scenes" stuff as much as the work itself.

    Page 106 is amazing--my new favorite, and not especially for being on a page from the text.

  7. You are very welcome. I don't often share many details of the behind the scenes stuff, primarily because I'm not certain if anyone would be interested. I don't ever want this blog to seem like a tiresome exercise in self-aggrandizement so I keep the focus on the art. But I am always happy to share when someone asks.

    Page 106 is also one of my own favorites. That one came together almost instantly, in what could truly be described as a flash of inspiration. Some of these pieces, especially the detailed pen and ink pieces, take many hours. Page 106, with spraypaint and colored pencil, was complete in under 10 minutes. In fact, I spent longer drawing and cutting the stencil for the spraypaint than I did actually painting and drawing.


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